Policy aspects related to Short Food Supply Chains

A review of EU and regional policy aspects related to Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) has been conducted in the framework of the agroBRIDGES project. The review provides an analysis, based on desk research of existing evidence and documentation, of the main policy aspects influencing SFSCs at both EU level and national or regional level of the 12 focal regions of the agroBRIDGES project. The 12 countries and their focal regions of study (Beacon regions) are: Greece (Central Macedonia), Finland, Netherlands, Italy (Lazio and Piemonte), Ireland, Denmark, Spain (Andalusia), Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, France (Bretagne, Pays de la Loire, Auvergne – Rhône Alpes) and Turkey.

The analysis focuses on four key thematic topics pertaining to policy aspects influencing SFSCs: a) legal and policy incentives for the development of SFSCs, b) their impact on producers’ market position, c) labelling schemes and procedures relevant to SFSCs, and d) public procurement procedures related to food.

The study has identified priorities and policy measures designed by European Commission to promote European SFSCs, implemented in the framework of national Rural Development Programmes (RDP). However, there are still barriers to their creation and development, such as not any harmonised definition of SFSCs, gaps in monitoring the implementation of the laws, not any funding/ financing incentives to support relevant legislation, excessive bureaucracy in the design and implementation of relevant incentives, lack of coordination at national level leading to duplication of efforts at provincial level, influence of large players of the agricultural industry in shaping agricultural policy.

Labelling schemes are in place for SFSCs in the EU, but the information is uneven because it depends on each country or region. Among the main barriers for the successful introduction and implementation of labelling schemes relevant to SFSCs are the costly and bureaucratic certification procedures for small farmers, the lack of knowledge and skills of farmers, and low awareness and lack of guarantees for the consumers.

The majority of EU countries have issued guidance on how to apply the national legislation within the context of procuring food in public settings. However, the share of local food is rather low because public procurement rules make it difficult for contracting authorities to properly express the preference for resources coming from SFSCs.

A few good practices have been identified among the participating regions and areas for improvement have been suggested for the policy topics of the study. Moreover, several opportunities have been identified for knowledge exchange and capacity building between the participating regions in the key thematic topics related to policies affecting the establishment and operation of SFSCs.

The findings of the study will feed as inputs into the development of a set of practical tools for the support of SFSCs within the context of the agroBRIDGES project.

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